|The two fragments were originally one painting depicting Salome holding the severed head of John the Baptist in a bowl in front of her. At some stage the upper and lower halves of the painting were separated and sold. The connection between the fragments was first recognized within the context of the Cranach Digital Archive research project. In the exhibition that this publication accompanies both parts (now held in Italian and German private collections) are reunited for the first time. |
Although the work is neither signed nor dated stylistic features and characteristic techniques support an attribution to the Master IW. The pale flesh paint, the striking waist-line and the laced bodice as well as the slit sleeves lined with brocade inserts also distinguish the following panels: ‘Judith with the Head of Holofernes’ (1525, Prague),’ Lucretia’ (1525, private collection) and ‘Salome with the Head of St John the Baptist’ (about 1525, private collection). The identity of the Master IW has not yet been clarified. We do however know that he was active in the Cranach workshop until about 1520 and probably moved to Bohemia during the reformation and the associated decline in commissions for altarpieces. Here he produced numerous works using templates from the Cranach workshop. Until about 1550 he was the most important mediator of Cranach’s style in Bohemia.
[Heydenreich, Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 291, No. 183]